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Ethiopia to close notorious prison and free all political prisoners

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The Ethiopian government will drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in a bid to ‘widen the democratic space for all.’

The announcement made by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn comes after days of consultations within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.

Addressing a joint press briefing with other chairpersons of the EPRDF’s member parties, Desalegn said the Mae’kelawi prison would be converted into a museum, and added that a new center has been established to replace Ma’ekelawi based on the national parliament’s guidelines on human rights and international standards.

“Political prisoners that are facing prosecutions and are already under arrest will be released,” Hailemariam said. “And the notorious prison cell that was traditionally called Maekelawi will be closed down and turned into a museum.”

The Prime Minister said charges will be dropped for all “political prisoners” who are currently under prosecution and pardons will be issued to all who have already been convicted and are serving their sentences in order to create the space for a national dialogue and national consensus.

Rights groups and opposition groups in Ethiopia had been calling for the release of political prisoners, saying they were arrested on trumped-up charges and were being punished for their points of view.

Ethiopia’s government has long been accused of arresting critical journalists and opposition leaders.

Some of the prominent politicians currently in custody include opposition leaders Bekele Gerba and Merara Gudina. A number of journalists also remain in detention.

An independent task force has also been set up to investigate human rights abuses and the handling of prisoners.

Ethiopia has faced more than two years of anti-government protests with demonstrators calling for political and economic reforms, which prompted a crackdown and thousands of arrests.

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Protest leader arrested, charged with inciting violence in Zimbabwe.

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Armed police in Zimbabwe have arrested a political activist at his home on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

It comes as protests against fuel price hikes enters day 3 Wednesday. Evan Mawarire, a Harare pastor, rose to prominence as a critic of former leader, Robert Mugabe.

Beatrice Mtetwa is lawyer for Evan Mawarire.



Businesses and schools remain closed while mobile telecom networks enforce a government internet shut down in this Southern African nation.

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“I cannot say the stay away has been successful but at the end of the day we await to hear what the government will do because the people have spoken, they were not happy and up to now they are still in fear”, said Harare resident, Ronald Gwasira.

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“The way it looks people want to go to work but unfortunately it seems the transport operators are not willing to take them”, said Terrence Gumbi, another resident.

Wednesday is the third and final day of stay-at-home protests called by unions in response to the steep hike in fuel prices.

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Kenya: Uhuru Kenyata promises avenge terror attack in Nirobi.

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Kenyan security forces have neutralised all four terrorists involved in the attack on a hotel complex in the capital Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday.

Kenyatta said about 700 people had been safely evacuated, vowed to avenge the 14 “innocent” lives lost.



“We are a nation that never forgets those who hurt our children. We will pursue relentlessly those involved in the planning and execution of this attack,” the president said.

‘‘I take note of Kenyans who took to social media to spread hope and criticise false information. You have shown the world bravery, patriotism and love.’‘

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he attack in numbers

  • 14 civilians confirmed dead

  • 700 people safely evacuated

  • 4 attackers neutralised

Victims

An earlier estimate put the death toll at 15.

Timeline of the attack

  • Tuesday 3pm (local time): Attack on dusitD2 hotel begins with two explosions

  • Tuesday 5:55pm: Al Shabaab claims responsibility

  • Tuesday night: AU, EU, UN, United States, Somalia condemn the attack

  • Tuesday night : Police announces it has secured 7 out of eight floors

  • Wednesday 6am: Gunshots ring out as police say at least two groups of people still trapped inside complex

  • Wednesday 8am: President Kenyatta declares terror attack and security operation ‘over’.

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